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Senator: WH looking to frighten Americans

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tells CNN's John Berman that President Trump and his administration "almost want there to be an immigration challenge," so they have an issue to frighten the American people with during the midterm elections.

Posted: Oct 20, 2018 12:53 AM
Updated: Oct 20, 2018 1:14 AM

President Donald Trump on Thursday seized on a new migrant caravan approaching the US to frame the midterm elections as a fight over border security while blaming Democrats, without evidence, of supporting the influx.

"It's going to be an election of the caravan," Trump said at a campaign rally in Missoula, Montana. "You know what I'm talking about."

In an extended riff about illegal immigration and the caravan, Trump told the crowd that Democrats were banking on the caravan to arrive before Election Day so they could vote for Democrats -- even though as asylum-seekers, they wouldn't be citizens and therefore would not be able to vote in the congressional elections.

"As you know, I'm willing to send the military to defend our southern border if necessary, all 'cause -- because of the illegal immigration onslaught brought by the Democrats because they refuse to acknowledge or to change the laws," he said. "They like it. They also figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat, you know. Hey, they're not so stupid when you think about it, right?"

Trump has repeatedly accused the Democrats of wanting "open borders," though he hasn't provided evidence for that claim. Although Democrats typically call for more relaxed policies toward undocumented immigrants, major party officials still advocate for some measure of regulation and security at the border. President Barack Obama was dubbed the "deporter in chief" among some immigrant advocacy groups for steps his administration took, and more than 2.4 million people were deported during his administration.

Responding to Trump's rally on Friday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, compared Obama's efforts to assist Central America to stem illegal immigration to Trump's actions.

"They almost want there to be an immigration challenge because they are looking for some way to create something to frighten the American people during an election," Merkley told CNN's John Berman "New Day."

Trump slams US laws

Trump also claimed that "if a foot hits the ground" -- if an undocumented immigrant sets foot on US soil -- the US is powerless to deport them, even though his administration has aggressively sent thousands of undocumented immigrants back to their home countries.

"A foot hits the ground -- you know, if a foot hits the ground, we're not allowed to say 'Hey, go back.' Every other country in the world, they say go back. 'Can't come in, sorry.' A foot hits the ground, we have to, by law, with these horrible people that are making their own rules having nothing to do with our Constitution," Trump said, apparently referring to Democrats.

"We have to take those people in even if they are criminals. And we have hardened criminals coming in. You think those people are perfect? They're not perfect. We have some bad people coming in, and by law, we have to take them in and then we have to -- it's called 'catch and release,' you ever hear this one?"

"Catch and release" refers to the fact that many undocumented immigrants end up living in the US for years because of a deeply backlogged immigration court system. When deportable immigrants are arrested, some go into mandatory detention but some must be released as the US can only physically detain about 40,000 immigrants at a time. Many immigrants deemed not to be flight risks and not dangerous have been released on their own recognizance or with monitoring technology.

Adding more immigration judges could alleviate the backlog, though Trump has questioned the process of immigrants going through the court system and has called for deportations without "judges or court cases."

At one point Thursday, Trump said he was "taking full blame" for illegal immigration because he has "created such an incredible economy" that was attractive to non-citizens.

An election about 'law and order'

This week, Trump, who has made combating illegal immigration a cornerstone of his political career, has pointed to the caravan making its way from Honduras as part of his efforts to galvanize Republicans ahead of the midterms.

He said Thursday the midterms represented "an election of (newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett) Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order, and common sense."

"That's what it's going to be," he said.

Trump has threatened on Twitter to cut money and aid to Honduras if the caravan was not "stopped and brought back" and has broadened his warnings to include other Central American nations as well.

The Honduran migrants, trekking in a caravan toward Mexico's southern border, say they're headed for the United States to flee violence and searching for economic opportunity. The US has leaned on Mexico to stop them before they reach the US border.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 608519

Reported Deaths: 9693
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion840461335
Lake45349684
Allen32803548
Hamilton29394315
St. Joseph27380381
Elkhart24404345
Vanderburgh19411249
Tippecanoe17970138
Johnson15069295
Porter14783169
Hendricks14401248
Madison10965221
Vigo10726181
Clark10677144
Monroe9383110
Delaware9116134
LaPorte9065163
Howard8236144
Kosciusko806983
Warrick672999
Hancock6697104
Bartholomew6484100
Floyd6428110
Wayne6136162
Grant5991115
Dubois555579
Boone551168
Morgan541295
Henry507864
Marshall503984
Cass483263
Dearborn479845
Noble473059
Jackson425047
Shelby417581
Lawrence391079
Clinton373043
Gibson370359
Harrison348144
DeKalb347164
Montgomery345754
Knox335639
Miami321444
Steuben313745
Whitley307326
Wabash303251
Adams300936
Ripley298445
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Huntington291659
Jasper289034
White273243
Daviess270474
Jefferson263338
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Fayette247148
Greene239862
Posey239328
Wells236051
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Scott225339
Clay222532
Randolph213548
Jennings198936
Sullivan192333
Spencer191321
Washington186423
Fountain184027
Starke175443
Jay167623
Owen165737
Fulton164030
Orange159534
Carroll158015
Rush155118
Perry154229
Vermillion149134
Franklin148333
Tipton132332
Parke13078
Pike116926
Blackford111022
Pulaski97037
Newton90921
Brown88035
Benton86610
Crawford7999
Martin73713
Warren6817
Switzerland6615
Union6287
Ohio4907
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 859841

Reported Deaths: 10680
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101171707
Cuyahoga855711125
Hamilton64017448
Montgomery43107418
Summit34836761
Lucas31350625
Butler30973232
Stark25786435
Warren19671140
Lorain19017223
Mahoning17321338
Lake16080154
Clermont15926111
Delaware1438878
Licking13204137
Trumbull12809316
Fairfield1279381
Greene12055137
Medina11591168
Clark10942265
Wood10348158
Allen9897126
Portage9296109
Miami916873
Richland9139118
Marion7459113
Tuscarawas7381182
Columbiana7327124
Pickaway726150
Wayne7034171
Muskingum703141
Erie6152129
Hancock552390
Ross548998
Scioto539164
Geauga508455
Darke470292
Ashtabula453073
Lawrence452654
Union451828
Sandusky436662
Mercer433589
Seneca430166
Huron428741
Auglaize422264
Shelby421222
Jefferson419269
Belmont416840
Washington388740
Athens38009
Putnam374975
Madison355129
Knox352622
Ashland344938
Fulton338443
Defiance330086
Crawford322374
Preble320637
Brown312921
Logan307332
Ottawa293943
Clinton290143
Williams278667
Highland275118
Jackson263845
Guernsey254125
Champaign252028
Fayette236530
Morrow23234
Perry231318
Holmes225474
Henry218749
Hardin213033
Coshocton205622
Van Wert202245
Gallia196726
Wyandot196051
Pike176217
Adams176115
Hocking172024
Carroll155616
Paulding144321
Noble120540
Meigs108624
Monroe100732
Harrison89121
Morgan83130
Vinton70213
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